With coronavirus cases on the rise, the Nigerian government has opted to curtail movement in its two major cities to curb the spread.
On Sunday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that there would be a 14 day cessation of movement in Lagos and the capital Abuja starting 2200GMT on Monday.
the measures would also apply to Ogun State, which neighbours Lagos State.
“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period,” President Buhari said.
The president’s televised speech marked his first major address to the nation since Nigeria’s first confirmed coronavirus case was announced in late February.
On Sunday, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 14 new of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the number of cases in the country to 111.
Buhari said the restriction would not apply to hospitals and in health care facilities related to manufacturing and distribution.
Late on Sunday, long queues started to form at supermarkets in Lagos and Abuja.
Buhari acknowledged that the restrictions may make it hard for people to feed themselves in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day.
“We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death,” he said.
Buhari added that “relief materials” would be distributed to communities around the states affected but did not give further details.
Lagos, the powerhouse of Africa’s biggest economy and the country’s commercial capital of some 20 million people, began a seven-day partial shutdown late last week.
The global coronavirus outbreak has already torpedoed Africa’s biggest economy through its impact on major trade partner China, where the pandemic began. Amid low oil prices caused by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, Nigeria earlier this month devalued its currency and said it must cut this year’s budget by $4.9 billion.